From Brittany to the Balearic Islands…

Prehistory of an acquisition.

I think it was in La Taberna del Puerto -a suggestive Internet forum for people interested in recreational sailing- that I started writing about the acquisition of Kif Kif. I remember that I started talking about how much I missed sailing and how little the sporadic transfer of some sailboats between the continent and the islands mitigated it.

April 2, 2017, dusk over the Bay of Biscay, shortly after setting sail from Les Sables d’Olonne (France) aboard a catamaran for transfer to Valencia (Spain).

I also remember that I commented in that forum that we sold our last boat in Shelter Bay Marina (Panama) for a symbolic euro to the children of our friend who intended to travel to Tahiti (French Polynesia). We could no longer afford the expenses involved in repeatedly repairing the old 75 horsepower Renault Diesel engine, marinated by Vetus in the eighties of the last century, which propelled the fifteen tons of weight of the Tchao Tchao; the sails that were falling apart just by looking at them; the rust that was gradually gaining every square centimeter of the 38 feet of length of the steel hull of the boat… My professional qualifications were expiring one after the other. Debts threatened to plunge us into a shipwreck worse than the worst nautical nightmare. (If you are curious to see what Tchao Tchao was doing, you can virtually travel back in time by clicking here. Whoever does so will find some of our memories…)

After parting from Tchao Tchao that cold winter of 2011/2012, we made the difficult decision to return to Europe. My partner went to the south of France to take care of her recently widowed mother – posthumous greetings to Serge from here, may the earth be mild to him – while I locked myself on borrowed time in the attic of the building of an artists’ community, in Germany, to shape the story of those years spent transporting backpackers between Panama and Colombia aboard our boat. Once that work was finished, the result of which, written in French, can no longer be seen on Amazon (for reasons of class solidarity with the struggle of the workers of that multinational), I returned to the Balearic Islands, where I managed to do a few weeks of subsistence charter. Winter 2012/2013 was not easy either, living as a squatter on charter boats while trying in vain to translate into Spanish “Les hirondelles: la course aux globetrotteurs dans la Caraïbe” and successfully updating my professional qualifications. At the end of that 2013 season, in Mallorca, I found this job from which I hope to retire soon, but in which, for the moment, Muriel and I are still fulfilling.

The purchase of Kif Kif, background…

With debts paid and some savings in my pocket, the Internet ad that piqued my curiosity described a boat ready for long ocean sailings, put on the second-hand market at a good price for a “family imperative”.

In one of our first telephone contacts before our trip to Paimpol (France) to see the boat, the then-still owner of Kif Kif explained to me that his girlfriend was pregnant, which forced him to make a drastic change of plans. The second reason the young instructor from the well-known Glenans sailing school gave me to justify the attractive asking price of his boat was its most basic armament, the main reason being its radically purist approach to sailing: no electronic aids, just a VHF – because it is mandatory – and a safety radio beacon. My young salesman told me that he hated the ease of the modern and planned to do all his sailing by traditional means, with a plastic sextant and the heavy paper volumes of nautical ephemerides stored in a chest, all very laudable if impractical.

The purchase of Kif Kif, the bargaining.

In February 2018, as I mentioned, my partner and I flew to Paimpol (France) to discover that the owner had gone on a trip to Colombia, delegating the sale of the boat to his parents and the keys to the boat to a friend of his who lived aboard another sailboat in the same port and who periodically started the engine and aired the interiors.

View of the port of Paimpol in February 2018 from the windows of the accommodation rented for three nights during our first visit to Kif Kif.

Already from the pontoon, I discovered the first contradiction between the radical discourse of the young salesman and reality in the form of a Furuno GPS antenna installed on the stern balcony of the sailboat. A few minutes later, as I thoroughly scanned every nook and cranny of the boat, another GPS appeared in front of my eyes on the chart table, a spare battery-powered Magellan GPS as a backup. However, nowhere did I find any sextant or trace of nautical ephemeris… My brain was taking down every detail and deducing it from the initial price announced by the seller, which his father insisted was non-negotiable. Nevertheless, I was mentally doing my calculations…

Near l’Arcouest, Ploubazlanec, Côtes d’Armor, February 2018.

Detail of the moldy interiors of Kif Kif at the time of price haggling.

The base of the mast is rusted.

Detail of the attachment of the forward balcony.

Having diner with Muriel in one of the cozy restaurants in the port of Paimpol.

The perfunctory electrical wiring…

Tad is celebrating the acquisition with a straight face, overwhelmed by doubts. Muriel took the photo.

Kif Kif at the dry dock in Paimpol, where it will wait until we can pick it up.

They were four days of intense negotiations, punctuated by some excursions to the outskirts of Paimpol under the typical Breton drizzle. The parents of the young sailing instructor were a lovely, simple couple; he was a schoolteacher, and she was a social worker. We invited them to lunch in a nearby creperie, and they talked to us at length about their son, their concerns about his erratic behavior, and his unlikely plans. There was no pregnant girlfriend anywhere, only a thunderous failure four months earlier when he set sail for the Caribbean in the company of a young woman, whom they did not know, aboard his recently purchased sailboat… The truth is that I do not understand how something like this could have happened to a seasoned sailing instructor from the famous Glenans sailing school. Did he not study the weather forecasts? Did he not calculate the tidal currents? What was his hurry to sail as he did, without any preparation? The fact is that solid headwinds and rough seas off the north coast of Brittany deterred him from his endeavor, apparently making him discover that sailing was not his thing. He turned around and returned to the port, where the young woman who accompanied him said goodbye to him forever. Sad end to a dream…

The boy’s parents told us they could not make any decision regarding the sailboat sale and contact with the young sailing instructor was challenging, first by e-mail, then by phone, at night, to bridge the time difference…. But little by little, I lowered the price, relentlessly pointing out every detail, the toxic mold on the bulkheads, the rust at the foot of the mast, the broken refrigerator, the bare electrical wiring, the sulfated battery terminals, the stale smell of the cushions… From the Colombian jungle looking for precious stones or from wherever he was, he refuted me with his arguments: that if the windvane gear was in perfect condition, if the Yanmar engine with only 1. 800 hours, that if the seven sails were almost new, including the spinnaker, and I refuted him with the silent-blocks of the Yanmar, broken, the air filter of the engine, non-existent… And I kept lowering the price until the mother in my partner’s heart told me: “That’s enough, Tad! Pay him what he asks for and let’s get it over with!”. I stopped pushing down the price, reluctantly accepting the last negotiated figure, convinced that I could still have lowered the final price by another two thousand euros, which he had finally paid a few months earlier in Holland for the boat. But hey! We had made it, and I would no longer be homeless in the future….

We barely had time left that month of February 2018 to sign the contract of sale, transfer the money, and go to the Harbor Master’s and the Affaires Maritimes offices to register the purchase of Kif Kif in our name. Then, to leave it in the dry dock with specific instructions to clean and sanitize it, we would return to the Balearic Islands, where the work impatiently demanded our presence… Then, if all went well, perhaps during July, we would have the three weeks I calculated we would need to sail the yacht from Paimpol to Palma, on the island of Majorca…

In the following nautical chart, you can see the estimated route (purple line) that we planned to take during the three weeks of holidays that we would still have to negotiate with the owner of the yacht on board of which we were working (and we are still working today, the day I am writing these lines, November 3, 2022). If we could get those three weeks of holidays, if the weather conditions were favorable, if the stars aligned and good luck smiled on us, we would still have to make the voyage with only two stopovers, without losing a second of time… If…, if…, if everything went well, of course! Many, many “yeses”, too many conditions… Brrr…!

(Courtesy Navionics Inc.)

From Paimpol to Palma, the tides.

As you all probably know, the Port of Paimpol is located in northern Brittany, about a hundred nautical miles east of what we could consider as the entrance to the English Channel, this being an imaginary line drawn between the island of Ouessant, the westernmost island of mainland France, and Bishop Rock, the westernmost island of the Scilly archipelago, southwest of England. Throughout this area, the tides and their currents are determining phenomena for navigation. For example, the locks at the port of Paimpol usually open two and a half hours before high tide and close again two and a half hours after high tide. During low tide hours, when the locks remain closed so that the water does not leave the harbor and the boats in the harbor can continue to float, beyond the port, the sea recedes several nautical miles, leaving the entire area dry until the tide comes back in. The spectacle is overwhelming and majestic for those who have never seen it. It happens every day, twice a day, and it is free. You just have to be there.

By clicking on the chart, it opens, and you can study the passage out of the port of Paimpol. The areas colored in green are covered with water at high tide and dry at low tide. The purple line indicates the path that Kif Kif followed toward the exit of the English Channel, about 100 miles further west. The “zero” and “one” points on the purple line at the exit of Paimpol harbor indicate the completely dry area at low tide, about 2.2 nautical miles, which is just over four kilometers. (Courtesy of Navionics Inc.)

Paimpol harbor locks closed, holding back harbor water to keep ships afloat. The author took the photo in February 2018.

From Paimpol to Palma, the departure.

Despite the work of preparing Kif Kif ready to sea, the crew never lost sight of the need to take care of themselves. In this image from Sunday, July 8, 2018 (photo by the author), Muriel can be seen paying tribute to the excellent “paimpolaise” cuisine with great élan.

First page of the Kif Kif logbook. Click on the image to see the detail.

Muriel to the Kif Kif tiller shortly after sailing from Paimpol on Tuesday, July 10, 2018, at 06:40 hours (LT). The sun had just risen.

Jib No. 2 and a reef in the mainsail, sailing fairly quick to the southwest, already through the Celtic Sea –”La Mer d’Iroise” in French– after leaving the English Channel astern. The photo was taken at 10:24 (LT) on Wednesday, July 11, 2018. From the logbook entries, it can be inferred that Kif Kif’s speed at that time was around six knots.

I won’t take long to describe the two long work days before departure. Getting a sailboat ready for the sea is a painstaking task that takes time, but we were racing against the clock, as we only had three weeks before returning to our workstation on board, where we are still crew today, November 3, 2022. We would have time, we said to ourselves at the time, to do what we still had to do along the way! Nevertheless, the ship was floating on her lines, which was – and still is – the most important thing, and the sails were ready to be hoisted.

Thus, approximately fifty-four hours after arriving on board, on Tuesday, July 10, 2018, at 04:37, just as the port locks were about to open and dawn was breaking, we started the engine, disconnected the port water intake and electrical power, and cast off.

I must confess that even before negotiating with the Big Boss our three-week vacation to move the Kif Kif, I was very clear about the timetables and tidal coefficients, the movements of the masses of water, their speed and direction, and July was the month that best suited our sailing plans. The only thing I could not control at that time was the mood of the weather, the movement of the great masses of air in the atmosphere, and the vagaries of meteorology. Finally, it was agreed that we would take our three-week vacation from Saturday, July 7, to Friday, July 27. You can imagine how often I downloaded the synoptic maps of the North Atlantic in the weeks and days leading up to the trip; how attentively I studied the barely perceptible throbbing of the Azores high, swelling, and deflating; with what frantic obsession I followed the movement of the fronts….

The timetable was set, the die was cast, and there was no turning back. The blank pages of the logbook, as they reflected the course of the voyage, would bear witness to the extent of the mistake made… or the success. We shall soon see!

From Paimpol to Palma, leaving the English Channel.

The Cap Horn wind vane, our faithful wind vane, continuously maintains the same angle with the breeze given to it when trimming.

Detail of the wind vane gear to the tiller.

The nautical chart shows the details of the area, with the mythical island of Ouessant almost at the center of the image (Courtesy of Navionics Inc.).

The Jument (mare in English) of Ouessant, the legendary lighthouse at the entrance to the Fromveur Channel, was seen by the photographer Jean Guichard, who made it world famous. Not to be confused with the Chréac’h lighthouse mentioned in the text. Click on the image to access a brief history of the lighthouse and the breathtaking images taken by Jean Guichard that went around the world, making famous the lighthouse keeper, Monsieur Théodore Malgorn, who appears in a sequence of shots at the foot of the lighthouse, with his hands in his pockets, about to be engulfed by a wave similar to the one shown in the photo.

Summarizing, then, as the details of the navigation, the rhythms of the watches, the breakdowns and other vicissitudes of life on board you will be able to discover them yourselves deciphering the notes -integras- of the logbook of Kif Kif by clicking here, since I will limit myself in these lines to describe the generalities of the voyage, the major incidents, the more or less strong moments of the tryp.

Undoubtedly, one of the highlights of the entire voyage was the exit from the English Channel. Having left the locks of the port of Paimpol astern, we soon found ourselves sailing at eight knots in a flat sea, without the slightest breeze, propelled probably at five knots by the purring effort of the engine, a 20-horsepower Yanmar, while the remaining three knots were due to the beneficial effects of the tidal current.

After half past seven in the morning of that Tuesday, barely three hours after having cast off, we were turning west, north of the north cardinal mark La Jument, which indicates the shallow waters and the shallows of the Héaux de Bréhat. At that moment, we were fully entering the southern part of the English Channel, still supported by the tidal current, which was still favorable to us.

We continued to take advantage of the favorable tidal currents for several hours, crossing between the Triagoz archipelago and the fishermen’s village of Trebeurden at more than seven knots, supported by the engine, until little by little, our speed dropped, and we began to feel the effects of the contrary tidal currents. Around two o’clock in the afternoon, in front of the lighthouse of the isle of Batz, which remained insistently on the same course, even at times giving us the impression that we were walking backward, our sailboat barely managed to maintain three knots of speed over the bottom, the engine purring impassively at two thousand two hundred rpm.

It was not until about nine o’clock in the evening that we could finally give the Yanmar some rest. We were about fifteen nautical miles north northeast of the island of Ouessant, with about ten miles to go to cross the imaginary line that would conclude our exit from the English Channel. The tidal currents were once again in our favor, while a southerly breeze was establishing, allowing us to sail in an open upwind course towards the Bay of Biscay, rounding Ouessant to the north, whose lighthouse would serve us as a reference point throughout the night.

The lighthouse on the island of Ouessant, le Créac’h, with its two white flashes every ten seconds and a range of thirty nautical miles, indicates the boundary between the English Channel and the Atlantic Ocean to the tens of thousands of ships that pass through the DST every year. We crossed it aboard Kif Kif around midnight, immediately setting a south-southwest course towards A Coruña (La Coruña, Galicia, Spain).

Open sea. The immensity of the ocean before us, while the glimmers of the lighthouse of Chréac’h are lost in the distance in the starry night. The mainsail flutters flaccidly to the rhythm of the boat’s swaying in the dead calm; meanwhile, the Yanmar continues to do its job, purring imperturbably until it suddenly coughs, clears its throat, purrs again, and stops for good. It cannot be that I have made a mistake in my calculations, and the engine’s consumption is higher than expected! I refill the tanks with diesel from the jerry cans moored on deck, purge the circuit, and start the engine. It is almost three o’clock in the morning on Friday, July 13. The engine coughs, clears its throat, purrs for a few seconds, and then stops again…
Could it be the filter that is clogged? Thank goodness I have a spare! I replaced the two used filters, both primary and engine, with two new filters, and I purged the circuit again, but something did not convince me at all. Firstly, the two used filters seemed perfectly clean, and I detected a small drop of diesel under the feed pump. The hose is cracked just below the clamp. I cut off the damaged piece, and before reconnecting it, I sucked hard on it. It’s not just diesel oil coming out of the hose; there are still air bubbles. I disassemble the whole circuit, inspect each connection and reassemble. The outlet clamps on both tanks were loose; another hose was also cracked under another clamp at the inlet of the primary filter, but this time I won’t have the length to cut off the damaged piece and reconnect it. I will be a couple of centimeters short. I look for a solution; I change hoses of place, I connect, I purge again… I give to the starter once, twice… The motor resists. I purge this time from the injector pump and try to start again. The Yanmar coughs, shudders, clears its throat, and jerks. At 06:47, I note in the logbook that the engine is running again.

Around five o’clock in the afternoon, a little breeze comes in from the east, allowing me to turn off the engine and free Muriel from the bondage of the tiller since, without wind, the Cap Horn does not work, no matter how much engine there is. We average a little over three knots, wing and wing, with the mainsail to leeward and the jib tangled to windward. This is how we will continue all night. Towards midday, on Friday the 13th, the breeze increases somewhat and, consequently, our speed, with peaks of up to 6.6 knots. By mid-afternoon, I start the engine again, this time without clutching it, just to let the alternator charge the batteries and to be able to run the cold for a while. Still, I have to turn it off barely half an hour later: the wind vane gear has ended up cutting the exhaust pipe, emptying the seawater from the cooling circuit in the aft compartment. So the batteries will have to wait. I am getting to know my boat.

At midnight we were still under sail wing and wing at more than six knots, on a direct course to La Coruña, with our faithful friend Cap Horn, the wind vane pilot, at the helm, steering the boat with surgeon’s preciseness.

Since we were racing against the clock, we had planned to skip the stopover in La Coruña if the weather conditions allowed us to do so, but since we had to repair the engine’s exhaust pipe, we had no choice but to stop. So, shortly before nine o’clock in the morning of Saturday, July 14, about twenty nautical miles from the port of La Coruña, having remained practically motionless on a sea as flat as a mirror, I restart the engine, bailing as best I can the seawater that the exhaust pipe insists on emptying on board, in the aft compartment. At 13:10, our arrival at the pontoons of the Reial Club Náutico de A Coruña is noted in the logbook that same Saturday, July 14, after a little more than four days of sailing from the port of Paimpol.

From Paimpol to Palma; from Ouessant to La Coruña: the Bay of Biscay.

Jib No. 2 and reefed mainsail in the classic wing and wing configuration.

Monitoring sail trim.

A well-deserved beer to try to erase the taste of diesel oil from the mouth after spending a few hours in the engine…

Muriel suffers the bondage of the tiller with a grim expression when, due to lack of wind, the Cap Horn refuses to continue steering the boat, and the Yanmar has to be started.

Cape Ortegal, by the bow, means the Bay of Biscay crossing is ending on this misty Saturday morning, July 14, 2018.

Kif Kif moored at the dock of the Reial Club Náutico de A Coruña, where it will have to wait until Monday, July 16, 2018, before it can begin repairs to the engine exhaust pipe.

Nautical chart covering the coast of Galicia from Cape Ortegal to A Coruña (Courtesy of Navionics Inc.).

From Paimpol to Palma, brief stopover in La Coruña.

María Pita Square and the City Hall of La Coruña.

The statue of María Pita behind the right shoulder of a Muriel in top form.

Delicious octopus in one of the best “pulperías” in La Coruña.

We never knew what they were celebrating aboard this passenger craft, which was entering the Reial Club Náutico de A Coruña in fanfare on Monday, July 16, 2018, at 20:16, the time this photograph was taken from the stern of Kif Kif….

From Saturday to Monday, being in a hurry and unable to do much, the weekend is long in La Coruña. However, the Galicians are people who know how to live, there is no doubt about that, and they live very well. So we had no alternative but to forget our haste and adapt to the rhythm and the substance of local life, leaving for Tuesday early in the morning the mechanical emergencies that would momentarily solve the exhaust pipe problem. In the meantime, we visited the city with a tourist spirit and enjoyed the local culinary delights; we also took the opportunity to wash clothes and replenish fresh supplies for the next stage without forgetting to rest, far from the worries of the watches.

On Tuesday, I had to get active first thing in the morning to find a blacksmith to weld two steel “L” pipes of the diameter of the flexible exhaust pipe that had been damaged so that I could mount it on board and get the engine running. It was no easy task, but shortly after lunch, I installed the invention in the aft compartment and started the Yanmar, which went to work without a hitch with its proverbial regularity. I was not entirely satisfied with that repair, as it would now be the Cap Horn gear hub rubbing against a piece of steel in the exhaust pipe, but we did not have time to make a more comprehensive modification.

We were practically ready to set sail. We only had to pay for the mooring, return the keys to the showers, and we could disconnect the electricity and water from the dock and cast off…

That same Tuesday, July 17, 2018, at 19:33, we started the engine, disconnected the electricity and water from the dock, and cast off. We soon left the Castillo de San Antón behind and turned northward to the sheltering mole. The weather forecast gave us a north breezes force of three to four Beaufor, so we had the wind in our faces to get out of the estuary. We made a few upwind tacks, supported by the engine until we were able to tack towards Punta Galera on a reach. At 21:00, I turned off the machine, and with two reefs on the mainsail and jib no. 2, we let ourselves be propelled at just over 5 knots by the 17 knots of the northerly breeze that accompanied us. Soon we stopped seeing the five white flashes every twenty-five seconds of the lighthouse of the Tower of Hercules, a World Heritage Site for being the oldest lighthouse in the world still in operation and the only Roman lighthouse still standing.

At 03:25 on Wednesday, July 18, I noted in the logbook that we passed the port of Corme, in the estuary of Corme and Laje, a shelter that brings me fond memories and whose memory I honor from here. Later, abeam of Cape Villano, we ran out of wind, and I had to start the engine again. And so, turning the engine off and on, gybing again and again in the breeze that soon disappeared once more, forcing us to start the Yanmar again, we slowly advanced south, at times looking for the wind a little further west, progressively moving away from the coast, which in that area leans towards the east. The worst thing about the calms and motor is the impossibility of using the wind vane gear, of being obliged to keep the course with the tiller in hand for hours.

Wednesday night into Thursday, we were accompanied by a persistent drizzle that made the helm watches very unpleasant when the breeze faded utterly.

It will not be until after lunch on Thursday, July 19, that I dare to hoist the spinnaker to make the most of the northerly breeze that seems to want to settle in again. The Cap Horn, once again, frees us from the slavery of the tiller, allowing us to wander off to other occupations, such as reading, relaxing on the bow on jib No. 2, or even preparing dinner.

At midnight the wind picks up, always from the north. We take the third reef in the mainsail and keep jib no. 2. The north wind continues to increase in intensity, and at around two o’clock on Friday, July 20, it is already blowing at more than twenty-five knots. Kif Kif is sailing over eight knots on a sea changing from heavy to high waves. Two pulleys of the mainsail’s holding gear blow to pieces. Shortly before dawn, I hauled in the mainsail. Then the jib. We sail at four knots at eight o’clock in the morning under bare poles. The sky dawns clear, without a cloud.

By dint of heading west in search of wind, now that we have found it, more than fifty miles from the Portuguese coast, we find ourselves in the path of cargo ships heading down to Gibraltar or Africa. Those metal monsters, laden with hundreds of tons of merchandise, cannot see us in that formed sea. I soon send jib No. 3, to be more maneuverable and thus avoid an eventual collision threat. By VHF, I contact the freighters whose course passes over us. They confirm that they do not see us on their radar, and only when they approach us do they distinguish us among the waves and modify their course.

In the afternoon, we put some easterly on our southerly course, making an east-southeast course to get away from the route of the cargo ships and the strong swell that is battering us. At about eight o’clock in the evening, we spot the Berlangas Islands and Cape Carvoeiro in the distance, some forty nautical miles north of Lisbon. I take the opportunity to start the engine and charge the batteries. Shortly before midnight, it turns off again, all by itself. I discover that it is leaking from the primary filter. I fix the problem, and it starts up again, but as we still have some wind and the batteries are already charged, we let it rest. Periodically, I have to shorten the Cap Horn’s forwarding line. The constant rubbing of the line on the steel piece of the exhaust I installed in La Coruña ended up cutting it after a few hours. Noted. The list is already quite long and growing. It is part of the learning process, and we are just getting to know each other, Kif Kif and me.

On Saturday, July 21, 2018, at 07:05, Muriel notes in the logbook, “We passed Lisbon, Estoril. Not much traffic.” The boat’s gait is five knots, a speed we will improve to almost six knots during the day.

It is 04:25 on Sunday, July 22, when we gybe south-southwest of Cape St. Vincent, at the southwestern tip of the European continent, at the southern end of the Portuguese Algarve, and set a direct course for the Strait of Gibraltar. The decision to stop in this tax haven, dependent on the British crown, is dictated by the need to replace the Cap Horn with an autopilot when the wind drops. In this British colony, we are sure to find what we need at an excellent price. But, on the other hand, we still have a short margin of time, and a brief stopover will not be bad for us to dissipate some of the humidity of the boat. However, we have taken advantage of the whole Sunday afternoon under a spinnaker to dry sheets, clothes, and cushions in the sun.

Between Sunday 22nd and Monday 23rd of July, we alternated sailing and motoring, sometimes the latter supporting the former. The wind completely disappeared since we passed off the coast of Cadix at about midnight. It did not return until Monday, well into the morning, to disappear again a little later …

In addition to the lack of wind on our approach to the Strait of Gibraltar, we had to add the contrary tidal currents that considerably slowed our speed and did not allow us to make more than three knots between Cape Trafalgar and Tarifa.

Finally, at 02:15 on Tuesday, July 24, we officially entered the Mediterranean Sea after rounding Carnero Point, heading for the port of Gibraltar, where we moored Kif Kif at the Marina Bay docks at 03:35. Exhausted, we went to sleep without even connecting the electricity to the dock…

From Paimpol to Palma, the trip between two stopovers.

Nautical chart of the port of La Coruña and the entrance to the estuary of the same name. Punta Galera is home to the world’s oldest lighthouse, the Tower of Hercules, a World Heritage Site (Courtesy of Navionics Inc.).

We left on our port side the castle of San Antón on course to the exit of the estuary of La Coruña on Tuesday, July 17, 2018.

On approach to Cape Villano on Wednesday, July 18, 2018.

From time to time some distracted dolphin would pass by Kif Kif without even looking at us, as if we did not exist….

Finally, on Thursday afternoon, the 19th, we can hoist the spinnaker, improving our performance a little.

Under the spinnaker, the Cap Horn continues to steer precisely without consuming a single watt of electrical power.

Muriel indolently enjoys some “dolce far niente” time on the bow of Kif Kif, under the spinnaker, comfortably settled on jib #2, while the Cap Horn holds the course with its usual precision.

The menacing bow of a cargo ship, barreling full speed ahead of us, looms on the horizon.

After radio contact, the cargo ship modifies its course to pass at a safe distance from us. On the VHF, he confirms that we are not visible on his radar. The decision to equip the Kif Kif with an AIS (Automatic Identification System) is shaping to be…

This time, the pod of young dolphins approaches our bow, curious and playful. Nobody speaks of killer whales’ interactions with the rudders of sailboats yet…

Muriel relaxed, on watch, while Cap Horn worked quietly to keep the sailboat on course. From the stern, we can see the heavy swell…

Sunrise in the bay of Cádix…

Without wind, the wind vane does not work. Muriel is at the helm, holding the course like a champion, which she is. Behind her, we can see the Cap Horn wind vane, useless, almost horizontal.

Nautical chart from Cape St. Vincent to Gibraltar (courtesy of Navionics Inc.)

Port of Gibraltar, Marina Bay (Nautical chart courtesy of Navionics Inc.)

From Paimpol to Palma, very short stopover in Gibraltar (UK).

The Rock of Gibraltar as seen from Kif Kif.

It looks dreary Kif Kif, all alone there, moored to one of the Marina Bay piers, with the runway of Gibraltar airport visible on the other side of the channel.

Yes, it must have been the dinner… very English, very “British”…

An EasyJet aircraft over the bow of Kif Kif, taking the position for takeoff, Wednesday, July 25, 2018, at about ten o’clock in the morning.

We slept in fistfuls for about four hours. Still, by eight in the morning of Tuesday, July 24, 2018, we were already in the aged showers of Marina Bay, getting ready to make a small foray into civilization, a civilization with a Llanito and English accent.

The first acquisition was the autopilot, a Raymarine ST 2000, which I immediately set about installing on board while Muriel updated the fresh provisions. Then we went out again, but this time in walking mode, more relaxed, bought some sunglasses and treated ourselves to an English meal in a typically English restaurant, or was it dinner? Yes, I think it was the dinner because I was fiddling around with the Raymarine connections for a long while before I got it working correctly.

And we went to sleep because the next day we had to set sail early, go to the gas station, fill up with diesel, and head for the Mediterranean, the Balearic Islands, home…, it was getting late….

On Wednesday, July 25, at ten o’clock in the morning, we started the engine, disconnected the boat from the dock, and cast off in the direction of the gas station, where we loaded enough diesel fuel to reach Mallorca at full speed. At about eleven o’clock, we left the harbor, and barely an hour later, with two reefs in the mainsail and jib No. 2, we were already sailing at more than six knots. The wind from the west was picking up, and by mid-afternoon, we were making points at eleven knots, probably aided by the current. It did not take us long to take the third reef to balance the boat’s motion and alleviate the work of the autopilot, which we were using for the first time on this voyage. The Raymarine behaved perfectly, but in windy conditions, there is nothing better than the Cap Horn, silent, with zero consumption and precision unmatched by the electric pilot.

In the evening, the wind dropped completely. I then turned on the engine and settled it to 1800 rpm. The Raymarine then took center stage, and well before midnight, we left the city lights of Malaga far behind us.

These same conditions are maintained throughout the day, Thursday 26th, passing the Cape of Gata at seven o’clock in the evening when we set a direct course to the Freu Grande de las Pitusas. The only task that kept the hours ticking by was transferring diesel fuel from the jerry cans to the tank so that the faithful Yanmar would not lack food.

At five o’clock in the morning of Friday, July 27, we were sailing in a dense fog that barely allowed us to distinguish the bow balcony of the Kif Kif. A little later, at 11:16 a.m., I write in the logbook: “Abeam with Cape Palos. HAPPY BIRTHDAY, MURIEL!!!! JE T’AIME!!!! MERCI!!!” Our gait was 5.7 knots, and the sea was still like a mirror while the Raymarine was doing its job with the typical groans of the electric motor that powers it.

On Saturday the 28th, at 03.23, we sighted the two white flashes every fifteen seconds from the lighthouse of Cape Barbaría, south of the island of Formentera, which has a range of twenty nautical miles. We were arriving at the Balearic Islands.

At around seven in the morning, always with calm seas and motoring, we crossed the Freu Grande between the island of Formentera and Ibiza; at ten in the morning, we passed abeam Tago-Mago, east of Ibiza; at four in the afternoon, we had the bay of Palma in sight, and at half past seven we moored Kif Kif at the docks of Marina Naviera Balear in the port of Palma, the capital of the island of Mallorca. Our trip, in a hurry, had just come to an end. Kif Kif was home. Mission accomplished.

It was time to reinstate our job.

From Paimpol to Palma, the last run.

Nautical chart of the western Mediterranean, from Gibraltar to Mallorca. Courtesy of Navionics Inc.

Muriel observed the behavior of Kif Kif at over 10 knots, being steered by Cap Horn with the Rock of Gibraltar astern.

In the foreground, the brand new Raymarine ST 2000 autopilot is doing its job.

In the distance, the unmistakable Cape Gata.

Sunset in the western Mediterranean, with “OTTO” at the helm…

Cape Palos and the Hormigas…

Sunrise over the Freu Grande, between Formentera and Ibiza. The photo was taken on Saturday, July 28, 2018, at 07:06 from the bridge of Kif Kif.

In the bay of Palma, the silhouette of a beautiful old gaffer with all her sails up out in the distance.

Kif Kif moored at one of the docks of Marina Naviera Balear in the port of Palma, Mallorca, Balearic Islands.